Feature films exploring a watershed, 1969 Harlem concert, the rapid expansion of surveillance technology, and a teen’s struggle to earn a chance at a better life are playing at Nebraska’s Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center.
In “Summer of Soul,” first-time director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson interweaves live footage with revealing interviews to shine a light on the largely forgotten Harlem Cultural Festival. Filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park), the festival spanned six weeks in summer 1969. It includes never-before-seen concerts by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ray Baretto, Abbey Lincoln, Max Roach and the Fifth Dimension.
The festival was intended to channel collective community anger about the assassination of civil rights leaders and the growing Black Panther movement into a celebratory event that affirmed Black pride in those who attended and the much-maligned Harlem neighborhood.
Stories told in the film come from concertgoers, musicians and behind-the-scenes workers.
“Summer of Soul,” which opens July 2 and is rated PG-13 for some disturbing images, smoking and brief drug material, shows at the Ross through July 15.
Also opening July 2 is “All Light, Everywhere,” a documentary that poses thought-provoking questions about the modern view of objective reality and implications on the growing reliance on surveillance technology.
Winner of the Sundance 2021 Special Jury Prize for Nonfiction Experimentation, the film explores the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice. Showcasing how surveillance technologies have become a fixture in modern life, the film navigates the complexities of an objective point of view, probing biases inherent in human perception and the lens.
“All Light, Everywhere,” which is not rated, shows at the Ross through July 15.
And, continuing to show through July 8 at the Ross is “Holler”.
The directorial debut for Nicole Riegel, “Holler” follows Ruth Avery (played by Jessica Barden) as she joins a dangerous scrap metal crew to pay for her education and earn a chance of a better life.
Working with her brother, the duo works a brutal winter in the scrapyards during the day and steals valuable metals from once-thriving southern Ohio factories at night. With the goal in sight, Avery begins to realize the ultimate cost of her education and is torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind.
“Holler” is rated R for language and sexual references.
For more information about films playing at the Ross, including show times and ticket pricing, click here or call 402-472-5353.